That Good Grief! shares its moniker with a song off of the 1995 Foo Fighters debut album is fitting. The group’s new EP, Bleary, is haunted by the ghosts of alternative rock’s past and by their own thematic and lyrical hang-ups.
Lines of regret, guilt, and loss pour from vocalist/guitarist Conor Brandt over the course of the record’s six songs, thankfully buoyed by a fistful of hummable melodies and catchy guitar leads.
“New Formalities” charges forward thunderously, punctuated by piercing guitar work by Brandt and Darren Scott. The lead work and structure recalls early Placebo in everything but vocal character. The listener is spared an imitation of Brian Molko’s nasally whine in favour of Brandt’s gruff, throaty timbre.
Brandt’s work on the mic is one of the highlights of Bleary, his ear for melody and deft lyricism resulting in memorable choruses on tracks like “Broken Telephone” and “Open Wound.” Recognition is due to the rhythm section, particularly on “Undefined” as Chris Jaggers and Shane Wilson weave the band through a number of passages that coalesce brilliantly in the chorus.
While there may be a tendency to play Spot-the-Influence while listening to this EP, the songs contained speak for themselves. Good Grief! employ familiar structures to their advantage, crafting a selection of well-written tracks. They may not be reinventing the wheel, but innovation has never been a necessary ingredient for enjoyable rock ‘n’ roll.